One of the fastest growing United Methodist Churches in Missouri is developing in an unusual place. The 7-year-old church expanded to a second location three years ago and is now about to begin building a new church where both locations can unite as one. It’s not in the suburbs but the urban core of Kansas City.
“We will be the first new church built in this part of Kansas City in over 80 years,” said Resurrection Downtown Campus Pastor Scott Chrostek.
Resurrection Downtown was planted by the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, with a core group of nine people. It’s part of the Church of the Resurrection “one church at many locations” model. Sermons are from Rev. Adam Hamilton about 30 times a year. Chrostek usually preaches on the other Sundays. Hamilton rarely preaches in person at Resurrection Downtown or any of the other satellite locations.
Resurrection Downtown officially launched in 2009 with an average attendance of 187.
Initially they shared space with Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church then moved to the Scarrit building across the street.
In 2011 the church purchased the building at 1522 McGee. Originally a service station and then the Crosstown Station bar, the building is directly across the street from the Kansas City Star, immediately across I-70 from the Sprint Center.
The parking lot that’s north of the church belongs to Temptations, a strip club located on the other side of the block. It’s about as central-city as you can get.
The church continued to grow. In 2011 the worship was averaging 675 people at three services. In June of 2013, Resurrection Downtown opened its second location at 1508 Grand, a former Cannon Copier company building, and went to five worship services at two locations, averaging 800 in attendance.
It was inevitable that another expansion would be needed.
Although reclaiming old buildings and making them something new was part of the ethos of the church, that part was getting challenging. “Downtown buildings with enough space to accommodate our worship numbers are few and far between,” Chrostek said.
Chrostek had been in relationship with the churches across-the-street neighbor, the Kansas City Star, since moving in. He was approached by someone from the Star who told him the newspaper was considering selling its parking lot.
“It opened the door to something we couldn’t see,” Chrostek said. “To have room to build a place where we can continue to grow and flourish in downtown Kansas City – it was a no-brainer.”
By January 2016 they were up to 1,000 adults and had 120 children enrolled in their KiDSCOR program. Last April the congregation raised $6.4 million in capital campaign commitments, surpassing their goal of $6 million. Resurrection Downtown’s annual operating budget is about $1.3 million. The church has seven people on staff full-time (counting Chrostek) and one part-time. A creative director manages 45–60 volunteer musicians and artists. A volunteer coordinator manages 400 volunteers.
Resurrection Downtown had 1,850 in attendance at five worship services on Christmas Eve. During Advent, members donated 375 Joy Boxes to share during joy parties with the partner school, Wendell Phillips at Attucks.
“While giving gifts like these is growing less popular because of the fear of toxic charity, we resist this fear and give them in the context of mutually transformative relationships,” said Patrick McLaughlin, community pastor at Resurrection Downtown who works on staff to keep the church connected to the community through mission. “Our tutors are on site weekly in classrooms, and liasons meet regularly with Principal Brown to build the relationships and understand the context. With Principal Brown’s encouragement along with the teachers’, we are confident that the few personal hygiene items; Some socks and gloves or a hat, and a small toy will bring joy to the children and families of Wendell Phillips at Attucks. Our presents alongside our commitment to presence assure all that God's love is real and makes a difference in Kansas City.”
Resurrection Downtown plans on breaking ground this month and being in the new building by spring of 2018.
BY THE NUMBERS
$10.4 million total project cost
1.2 acres of land
440 seat sanctuary
177 parking spaces
15,236 square-foot building
37,000 square-foot addition in phase II